Man, it is not a good time to be a DC fan.
I know this, because it’s been almost 10 years since I could have proudly proclaimed myself to be a Superman fan and not feel embarrassed (Hey, at least 2006’s Superman Returns did the character justice, when compared with the garbage fires that were Man of Steel and BatPunisher v SuperSerious: Yawn of Martha).
It is even more disappointing because I honestly expected Suicide Squad to be a great film. The biggest reason being that it was David Ayer directing it. Ayer wrote and directed one of my favourite films of 2014, Fury (coincidentally released the same year as Guardians of the Galaxy, a great film that Suicide Squad owes a monumental debt to) Hell, even the trailers for Suicide Squad looked cool; and after the turdbucket that was Batman v Superman, I honestly felt that DC was finally on track to jump starting their universe.
Boy, was I wrong.
I’m not going to delve into any spoilers here, but before I begin my review, in a nutshell, the movie is about a govt agency, headed by Amanda Waller, forming a team of expendable super-villains to take down threats that are too dangerous for the govt to handle. With the the bare-bones synopsis out of the way, I’ll start this review with the positives.
The movie has a very quirky, Edgar Wright-ish aesthetic during the first act that I genuinely found myself drawn towards, this aesthetic is quickly forgotten as the film progresses, but I liked it when it was prominent. Some of the main characters in the film were expertly portrayed, with Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Will Smith as Deadshot, Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, Jay Hernandez as El Diablo, and of course Jared Leto as The Joker (for all the 20 minutes of screentime he has in this 2 hour film) are particular standouts; So much so that it feels like a huge missed opportunity that these characters aren’t in a better film. The music in the film is pretty good, but it is also hilariously intrusive, with random songs being played that literally has no connection whatsoever to the scene, which isn’t strictly speaking a positive, but I’m honestly struggling here.
Now, onto the negatives.
Suicide Squad is an incoherent, horribly written,wannabe-edgy, senseless and downright obnoxious mess of a movie. It is a spectacular misfire with momentary flashes of a better film hidden within it. The editing, just like Batman v Superman before it, is just all over the place. A bunch of scenes just thrown in together with no semblance of structure or pacing. Some characters in the film are introduced over 5 times, while some others aren’t introduced at all. The cinematography is pretty f***ing bad as well, with all the scenes looking like they have some sort of 50% darkness filter thrown over them.
Now, I’m a huge advocate of visual effects and I honestly believe that when used right, CGI is an amazing tool to tell a story (case in point: Lord of the Rings, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) but on the other hand, when not used right, you get the shit in Suicide Squad. The ammo-fodder monsters here look like they’re made from faeces and….y’know what, let me just get down to what is possibly the worst thing about the film – The main Villain and her brother, a secondary villain, is just total shit (The brother villain honestly looks like he’s just walked out of the set of Gods of Egypt). Played by Cara Delevigne, the enchantress, who is the primary antagonist, is not threatening in the slightest. With her constantly belly dancing for some reason in front of a big alien portal, the kind that we’ve already seen in countless superhero films by now (The big alien portal, not the belly dancing), she comes off as woefully cringeworthy in all her scenes (There is one cool transformation scene that involves her character though, but that’s about it) Oh, and did I mention that she’s supposed to be this 6000 year old witch and speaks with a posh british accent? “You haven’t got the balls”,she says at one point, as 6000 year old witches do, to Joel Kinnaman’s squad leader Rick Flagg.
The action scenes here are pretty bad as well, with no singular shot or sequence being particularly memorable. In fact, there are virtually no setpieces in the film whatsoever, They’re all boring and repetitive shootouts with no stakes behind them whatsoever; and while the characters in the film are cool, the way they’re written is just downright atrocious. There’s even a scene where one of the members leaves the group only to rejoin them as they walk in slow-motion with no explanation given for his/her motives whatsoever.
The few flashes of a better movie that I’d mentioned earlier, mostly come from the scenes with the Joker. Jared Leto does his best with the material he’s given, and while there’s not nearly enough of him in the film to actually compare him with the late, great Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the clown prince of crime, I’m optimistic about Leto’s version in future Batman films.Also, some of the character stuff surrounding Deadshot and El Diablo is pretty good as well. Furthermore, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn almost single-handedly elevates the movie to being barely watchable (Not for the reasons you’re thinking about. Perverts.) although sometimes, her jokes do fall flat. It’s tragic really, that all this good is hidden so far beneath a massive diarrhoea dump.
So there you have it, Suicide Squad is the third consecutive dud in Warner Bros’ DCEU (DC Extended Universe) and it’s also convinced me not to pay for watching WB/DC movies in theatres. Suicide Squad is most definitely a better movie than Batman v Superman, but that’s almost like saying that being buried alive is better than being burned alive.